An attorney for former Cabinet minister Maurice Papon displayed an Uzi machine gun in court Tuesday, saying it was a thank-you present from Israel for Papon's help smuggling weapons to the Jewish state in 1948.
Papon, the highest-ranking official of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime to face trial for war crimes during World War II, is charged with crimes against humanity for his alleged role in arresting and deporting 1,690 Jews from Bordeaux. Most of those deported died.
Defense lawyer Francis Vuillemin said the Uzi was given to Papon at a ceremony in Paris in 1964 by Walter Eytan, then Israel's ambassador to France. At the time, Papon was police chief of Paris.
Papon, now 87, told the court that in 1948, as the top French official in Corsica, he authorized American planes loaded with weapons bound for Israel to land on the island.